All parts of the UK government system are now in recess until next month (4 September) yet matters Brexit continue to rattle along at a snail’s pace. Bear in mind Article 50 commits the UK to exiting the EU at the end of March 2019.
Despite recess, we heard this week that the UK Government “must rethink devolution” as a result of Brexit, according to an influential group of MPs. The process of leaving the EU has sparked a series of clashes between UK government ministers and their counterparts in Scotland and Wales. Westminster’s constitutional affairs committee said ministers should engage more and set out policies more clearly. And as we have reported regularly, the Scottish Government has also called for a “new arrangement” for devolution in light of the recent Brexit rows.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell MP has been visiting New Zealand in an official capacity this week. Among his visits was the City of Dunedin, twinned with Edinburgh (and one of the capital’s first formal twinning links).
And some sad news this week with the news that Sir Alex Fergusson, former Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, has died aged 69. The former Conservative MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries stood down from Holyrood after 17 years of service in 2016, and was subsequently knighted. He served as Holyrood’s third Presiding Officer from 2007 to 2011 and arguably one of the nicest men ever to be elected to Holyrood.
FOCUS ON – the Department of Finance, Economy and Fair Work
– over the summer recess, we will look at a few of the Scottish Government departments following Nicola Sturgeon’s recent reshuffle. The new-look business department is headed up by Derek Mackay as Cabinet Secretary. He has ultimate responsibility for most matters to do with Scotland’s economy including fiscal policy, taxation and the Scottish Futures Trust (which oversees much of Scotland’s public infrastructure and construction).
Derek Mackay is now supported by three junior ministers, all with new job titles which show how broad the department’s scope is: Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy (Kate Forbes MSP); Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation (Ivan McKee MSP); and Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills (Jamie Hepburn MSP, who held a narrower version of this post prior to the reshuffle).
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